We were living in Budapest, when we saw that the Foo Fighters were coming to town for their first concert in Hungary in 15 years.
We were already big fans and the promise of such an epic return to Hungary was irresistible. We bought our tickets right away. We started off the night with a pre-game warm up at Nappali Kávéház, the bar downstairs from where we lived, which mainly consisted of a quick barrage of tequila shots and beer.
Feeling pretty good, we took a taxi to the arena and got there just in time for a couple more shots before we found our seats and The Foo went on.
They did not disappoint. They rocked Budapest like it hadn’t been rocked in 15 years. Maybe it was the tequila, maybe it was the inspiration from a recent book by John Levy called The 2am Principle, or maybe a combination of the two, but after the show a crazy idea formed in our heads and we went for it.
We Were Going To Get Backstage Somehow!
We discovered that we had a few advantages as we took stock of the situation. We had California driver’s licenses and The Foo Fighters were from California. We had worked at a few of the Hollywood studios, which is a fairly small community. We both had long hair and looked like rockers. We had a huge advantage in that we spoke English. But most of all we had the courage to try.
We went up to the first security guard standing between us and the backstage area, flashed our California ID, and said “Pat said to meet him backstage after the show.”
Pat Smear is the guitar player and seemed less obvious than saying Dave. As a bonus, we knew Pat’s exterminator back in California who told us to tell him hi if we ran into him. We realized quickly that the poor security guard barely spoke any English, so had no idea how to react. He probably very little idea of what we had said, and definitely had no idea what he should do. He had been presented with a CA ID and was considering the very real possibility that we were legit. We certainly didn’t sound local. So, as he stood there thinking about it we just walked past him talking and smiling, thanking him the entire time. Frozen by indecision, he just let us go in.
We wandered around back stage for a while always heading in the direction we guessed would lead to the dressing rooms.
After a few wrong turns, we took an unmarked non-descript elevator down one floor and came upon several waiting vans with their engines running. The area was also crawling with security guards. The important thing to do in situations like this is not to panic. Act like you belong there, like you aren’t doing anything wrong, and chances are that people will eventually believe it.
We found a guy who looked like he might be in charge, flashed our ID’s again and gave him the same line, “Pat said to meet him here after the show.”
The guy barely glanced at our ID’s but he did ask us our names before he disappeared further backstage to ask Pat if he knew us. We gave him our friends name (Pat’s exterminator) as one of the names in hopes that Pat would recognize it. A short time later, we were admitted to the main hallway where the dressing rooms were and told to wait there. One of the security guards was wearing a shirt from Universal Studios where I had worked for a time and where we knew some people. So, after mentioning a few names that he recognized everyone seemed to relax and started to assume we belonged there.
After about 10 minutes, Pat Smear came out and asked us who we were, so we told him that our friend Preston said “Hi!”
He talked with us for a little while but he eventually drifted away to mingle with the other people hanging out backstage. Taylor Hawkins came out next and started chatting with the security guard we had just made friends with so we hung out and joined in that circle for a short while until we saw Dave Grohl. The funny thing is that we had run into Dave twice before in Los Angeles, but had never said hi or introduced ourselves. As a way to open the conversation we mentioned how we had run into him before and where. The last time we saw him, he had been with 2 of his daughters, and out of respect for his private time we left him alone. When we mentioned that, he seemed to appreciate it enough to hang out and talk to us for a while. We got a picture, shook his hand, and chatted like old friends.
Every story you hear about Dave Grohl being a cool guy is true. I mean the guy is a mega rock star having been the drummer for Nirvana, played in a whole slew of side projects with other famous musicians, and is the front man for The Foo Fighters. It really doesn’t get any bigger than that. Even with all of that on his resume, he was the most down to earth, nicest guy you could ever hope to meet. We felt truly honored. As the tour manager rounded up the band and herded them to the waiting vans that would take them to their hotel, we took it as our cue to leave. We left there euphoric. It had been an amazing night.